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Authorities hell bent to ruin Sonamarg: HC

Excelsior Correspondent

Srinagar, Sept 8: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court today observed that the authorities are hell-bent to ruin the natural beauty of famous tourist resort Sonamarg by allowing large scale constructions.
The  Division Bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey questioned  Chief Executive Officer Sonamarg Development Authority (SDA) that how constructions have come up on meadow site of the resort. CEO could not give the satisfactory answer and only added that it is in Master Plan of Sonamarg. Court in reply said: “then the Master Plan is useless”.
“If you allow constructions, everything is gone then. You people are going to ruin the nature’s beauty. Whole area of Sonamarg is being commercialized. Save it from further destruction”, court observed to Advocate General of the state and without passing any direction put the matter for further proceedings along with a PIL dealing with safeguarding of water bodies especially River Jhelum on  Monday so that effective directions be passed.
Court last week directed the authorities to ensure that no construction is carried within the peripheries of Sonmarg tourist resort till further orders and had also sought map of the area which falls under Sonmarg Development authority.
The CEO SDA, DFO Forests, DFO Wildlife and Regional wildlife warden were present in the court along with the maps of their respective jurisdictions. Court has been shown the map by CEO SDA in the first instance.
The orders of halting constructions were passed in a petition relating to illegal construction on the banks of river Sindh. The petition was filed by an advocate and case has been re-opened in wake of alarming condition of Sonmarg and has been treated as suo-moto proceedings by the court in order to save the resort before it becomes a concrete jungle.
On asking that who has given permission for these constructions, court was apprised by Advocate General of the State that the then Chief Executive Officer of Sonmarg Development Authority (Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, has granted these permissions.
It was after reports of indiscriminate and unauthorized constructions in Sonmarg reached court that it took cognizance in by matter directed the Registry to array CEO-SDA, Regional Wildlife warden Kashmir and Divisional Forest Officer Sindh as party respondents to the PIL and notice issued to them were accepted in open court by their respective state counsels.
Court while taking serious note of reports of constructions in and around the tourist resort had sought complete geographical details from concerned officials of whole Sonmarg area, whether it is forest area, wildlife area or proper Sonmarg resort.
Regional Wildlife Warden was directed to submit the report indicating there-in the wildlife area as also DFO Sindh was directed to inform the Court about the forest area of Sonmarg in shape of status report.


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